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  Wikipedia: George W. Bush

Wikipedia: George W. Bush
George W. Bush
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

George W. Bush
Order: 43rd President
Term of Office: January 20, 2001–present
Predecessor: Bill Clinton
Date of Birth: Saturday, July 6, 1946
Place of Birth: New Haven, Connecticut
First Lady: Laura Welch Bush
Profession: Businessman
Political Party: Republican
Vice President: Richard Bruce Cheney

George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is the 43rd and current President of the United States. He was the 46th Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000.

Bush is the second person to become U.S. President whose father was also President. (John Adams, the second President, and John Quincy Adams, the sixth were father and son.) Bush's father, George H. W. Bush, was the 41st President of the United States.

Personal Life and Education

George W. Bush was born in New Haven, Connecticut and grew up in Midland and Houston, Texas. He has four younger siblings: Jeb, Neil, Marvin, and Dorothy. A younger sister, Robin, died of leukemia in 1953 at the age of three.

Like his father and paternal grandfather, Bush was educated at Phillips Academy and Yale University. While at Yale he joined Delta Kappa Epsilon and the Skull and Bones Society. He received a bachelor's degree from Yale in 1968 and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Harvard Business School. He is the first president to hold a MBA degree.

Bush married Laura Welch in 1977. In 1986, at age 40, he forswore alcohol and became a born-again Christian, converting from Episcopalian Christianity to his wife's denomination, Methodism. They have twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna, born in 1981. Barbara is a currently student at her father's alma mater, Yale University; Jenna attends the University of Texas at Austin.

See also Bush political family.

Controversy about Early Personal Life

Bush had problems with alcohol for years after college. He was arrested and fined for driving under the influence of alcohol, after partying with tennis great John Newcombe, on September 4, 1976 in Kennebunkport, Maine. Bush was pulled over while driving with three passengers: his wife, Laura, tennis star John Newcombe, and Newcombe's wife during the Labor Day weekend when a police officer noticed Bush's vehicle swerving back and forth on the road. After the arrest, Bush pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor DUI charge, paid a $150 fine, and had his driving privileges briefly revoked in the state of Maine.

Bush's Service in the Air National Guard

Bush enrolled in the Texas Air National Guard in 1968, during the Vietnam War, and served as an F-102 pilot until 1973. Bush was twice promoted during his service in the Texas Air National Guard; first, to 2nd Leutenant and then to 1st Leutenant. Prominent Democrats, including Michael Moore and Terry McAuliffe, as well as the White House press corps, have questioned whether Bush's father used political influence to keep him out of the war by sending him into the National Guard; National Guard service at the time was widely seen as a way to avoid going to war, as the likelihood of the Guard being called up was extremely low, and the waiting list for the Guard at that time was extremely long. Presidents Johnson and Nixon decided against calling up the National Guard for extended service in Vietnam. The Air National Guard did see Vietnam service in 1965 and 1968. A pilot program to consider using F-102 airplanes as bombers in Vietnam was underway. According to a pilot from Bush's squadron, Bush inquired about this program but was advised by a supervisor (Maj. Maurice Udell) that he did not have the desired experience (500 hours) at the time and that the program was winding down and not accepting more volunteers.

Bush received permission to move to Alabama so that he could work in the Senate campaign of Winton Blount, a friend of his father. However, there is controversy over the question of whether he ever reported for duty or not.

These questions were brought up during both the 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns. Due to mounting charges of being a "deserter" and "AWOL" by the aforementioned parties, President Bush has released documents from the Alabama National Guard including, most recently, pay stubs and a record of a dental examination. His mid-February release of never-before-seen Guard documents seem to contradict his February 8, 2004 statements to Meet the Press interviewer Tim Russert that "We did [authorize the release of everything] in 2000, by the way."; however, Bush contends that he was referring only to documents already in his possession, as opposed to the new documents, which were just recently received from the Alabama national guard. More than 700 additional documents were released on February 13, 2004. The files show a excellent service record up until May, 1972, but still have gaps after that date. The files also show that Lt. Bush did serve 25 days to achieve the service points needed during the year in question.

Upon returning to Texas, Bush worked for an inner-city poverty program. Having achieved the required service points in the Air National Guard, was honorably discharged in 1973 several months early so that he could attend the Harvard Business School. He received his MBA from Harvard in 1975.

Business and Political Career

Bush began his career in the oil industry in 1975 when he formed the oil and gas exploration company Arbusto Energy and continued working in the energy industry until 1986. The oil crisis of the late '70s hurt Arbusto Energy and the oil crisis of 1985-1986 hurt Bush's next start-up oil company, Spectrum 7. Spectrum 7 was saved by a buyout from Harken Energy Corp.

In 1978 Bush ran for the House of Representatives and was defeated by the Democratic State Senator Kent Hance.

After working on his father's successful 1988 presidential campaign, he assembled a group of partners from his father's close friends and purchased the Texas Rangers baseball franchise in 1989.

Bush was involved in controversial stock trades while serving on the board of directors of Harken Energy Corp. in 1990. Bush has claimed that he sold Harken stock on the assumption of a positive corporate outlook. However, on April 20 of that year, company President Mikel D. Faulkner told the directors that the company was facing grave financial problems, including a serious cash crisis that was exacerbated by pressure from lenders, as well as a slumping oil market. After receiving this dire news, in June Bush sold 212,140 shares of Harken stock. Shortly thereafter, on August 20, Harken reported a $23.2 million quarterly loss. Bush waited 36 weeks to file an SEC form about his sale. An SEC investigation, conducted while Bush's father was President of the United States, declared "the investigation has been terminated as to the conduct of Mr. Bush, and that, at this time, no enforcement action is contemplated with respect to him." but the investigation's termination "must in no way be construed as indicating that the party has been exonerated or that no action may ultimately result." As President, Bush has refused to authorize the SEC to release its full report on the investigation. When reporters asked Bush about his Harken activities, he told them that they "need to look back on the director's minutes", although this would in fact be impossible because Harken has declined to release its board records ever since questions were first raised concerning Bush's activities there.

The sale of Harken stock helped pay off a loan for his purchase of a partial interest in the Texas Rangers. He served as managing general partner of the Rangers until he was elected Governor of Texas on November 8, 1994 over incumbent Ann Richards. When the team was sold in 1998, Bush had earned $15,000,000.

He went on to become the first Texas governor to be elected to consecutive four-year terms. His tenure in office featured a positive reputation for bipartisan leadership.

Bush became President on January 20, 2001, as the winner of one of the closest general elections in American history - defeating Democratic Vice President Al Gore by only five electoral votes, while receiving fewer popular votes. (Until then, the most recent election in which a candidate lost the popular vote and won the election was in 1888.)

The election results were hotly contested by Gore for several weeks until a U.S. Supreme Court ruling ended his efforts in mid-December. These election results are still contested by some, who claim Bush rigged the election. (see U.S. presidential election, 2000).

Public Image and Personality

While Bush's mis-statements (known as "Bushisms") have gained him a reputation for stupidity among his critics, his past academic performance was normal. Questions about the intelligence of major candidates became an issue during the 2000 election. Bush and Al Gore were both ridiculed with collections of assorted oddities. Some have attempted to compare their current respective intellectual capacities by going decades back to their academic achievements. According to that criterion, Bush's academic record and background was by and large comparable to Gore's. For example, Bush's verbal SAT score was 566, Al Gore's was 625. In addition, Gore received lower grades in his second year at Harvard University than any semester recorded on Bush's transcript from Yale.

According to Karl Rove, a close political adviser to Bush (as cited in Auletta, 2004), Bush views most persons in the media as "élitist," with socially or economically little in common with most Americans.

Popularity

Following the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks, President Bush enjoyed the highest approval ratings in history, upwards of 90 percent, according to most polls. High approval ratings are historically common for war-time Presidents, but Bush was able to maintain his high approval ratings a year after the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks. As of November 2002, Bush had the highest approval rating of any President during a mid-term election, since Dwight Eisenhower. Many critics assert that this strong approval rating had less to do with the specific president, than with the nation's post-attack rallying mentality after the 9/11 terrorist attack. The polls were not universally favorable, however, and at least one poll showed that only a minority of the electorate would vote to re-elect him in 2004. Polls conducted during 2003 showed similar results, leading both Democratic and Republican pollsters to believe that his campaign for re-election could be as competitive as the 2000 race was.

In the 2002 mid-term elections, the Republican Party retook control of the U.S. Senate and added to their majority in the House of Representatives, bucking the historic trend. Historically, the party in the White House loses seats in the mid-term elections. It marked just the third time since the Civil War that the party in control of the White House gained seats in both houses of Congress in a mid-term election (others were 1902 and 1934). Some have suggested that the historic victory was due to Bush's popularity and his heavy campaigning for Republicans in numerous close races. However, others have argued that the Democrats lost seats in the election because of their timidity in criticizing Bush as a popular "war-time" President.

In 2003, Bush's approval ratings continued their slow descent from the 2001 highs. By late 2003, his approval numbers were in the low to middle 50's, around the lows of his Presidency. Nevertheless, his numbers were still historically solid for the third year of a Presidency, when the President's opponents typically begin their campaigns in earnest. Most polls tied the decline to growing concern over the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq and the economy's slow recovery from the 2001 recession.

A graphical summary of the trend of Bush's poll numbers can be seen at [1].

Platform

Main article: George W. Bush's 2000 Election Platform

Foreign policy

Bush's most significant foreign policy platform before coming to office involved support of a stronger economic and political relationship with Latin America, in particular Mexico, and a reduction in involvement in "nation-building" and other small-scale military engagements.

Bush's decision to impose a tariff on imported steel (ruled illegal by the W.T.O in November 2003, and withdrawn the following month), and to withdraw from global initiatives such as the Kyoto Protocol, ABM Treaty, an international land mine treaty and other multinational efforts, have convinced many that he (and his administration) has a policy of acting unilaterally, thus evading international responsibilities. Bush has justified these policies by arguing that these actions are in America's best interest. He has asserted, for example, that the Kyoto Protocol is "unfair and ineffective" because it would exempt 80 percent of the world and "cause serious harm to the U.S. economy."

Many governments have expressed their concern and dismay at what they see as a failure to ratify what they consider to be a key international environmental treaty and many nations (including the composite national grouping, the EU) are actively considering imposing sanctions against the US. However, blaming Bush for a failure to ratify may be rather off the mark. In 1997, before the Kyoto Protocol was to be negotiated, the U.S. Senate passed by a 95-0 vote the Byrd-Hagel Resolution which stated that the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol that did not include binding targets and timetables for developing as well as industrialized nations or "would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States".

A change of focus immediately followed the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack. His foreign (and domestic, to a lesser degree) policy was subsequently defined, above all, by the "War on Terrorism". This was first described in a special "Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People" on September 20, 2001 in which Bush announced that America was fighting a war on terrorism.

In July, 2002, Bush cut off $34 million in funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). This funding had been allocated by Congress the previous December. Bush claimed that the UNFPA supported forced abortions and sterilizations in mainland China. His justification came from a bipartisan group of anti-abortion members of Congress and an anti-abortion organization called The Population Research Institute, which claimed to have obtained first-hand video taped evidence from victims of forced abortion and forced sterilization in counties where the UNFPA operates in the PRC. The decision was praised by many in the pro-life movement, including the United States' largest public policy women's organization, Concerned Women For America.

Abortion-rights supporters criticized the decision and point out that the PRI refused to release information that would allow the team to locate the women, and thus no independent verification of PRI's claims was possible. Nor was it possible to confirm that UNFPA funding was actually behind the abortion and forced sterilizations alleged in the video. However, he sent a fact finding team to the PRC to investigate the situation there, and the team reported that UNFPA funding did not go towards forced abortions or sterilizations. Bush thus disregarded the findings of his own investigatory mission on this matter. See [1] for more information on the PRI.

The Bush presidency has also been marked by diplomatic tensions with the People's Republic of China and North Korea, the latter of which admitted in 2003 to having been in the process of building nuclear weapons and threatened to use them if provoked by the US.

Bush has also maintained a desire to resume the peace process in Israel, and openly proclaimed his desire for a Palestinian state to be created before 2005. He outlined a "roadmap for peace" featuring compromises that had to be made by both sides before Palestinian statehood could become a reality. One particular proposal was his instance for new Palestinian leadership; a stance that saw the appointment of the first ever Palestinian Prime Minister on April 29, 2003. The "roadmap for peace" fell apart within months after more violence and the resignation of the new Palestinian Prime Minister.

Military Operations

Afghanistan

Once the source of the September 11 terrorist attacks was traced to Osama Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda network operating out of Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, Bush launched a military campaign against the country. Though the original intent of the strikes was to destroy terrorist infrastructures and training camps, it soon became clear that Afghanistan's Taliban government was deeply connected to Bin Laden's terrorist organization. On November 13, 2001 American troops seized control of the capital city, Kabul, and overthrew the Taliban government. Exiled President Burhanuddin Rabbani was returned to office, and was soon followed by a special interim government headed by former Afghani territorial governor Hamid Karzai. Diplomatic relations between Afghanistan and the United States resumed, and Karzai became a close ally of Washington in the continued fight against terrorism.


In his 2002 State of the Union address, Bush argued the case for war with Iraq.

The Bush Administration has been criticized for holding several hundred individuals accused of connections to Al-Qaeda or the Taliban at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba without trial. Under the Geneva Convention, prisoners of war cannot be held after the war has ended. The Bush Administration and its supporters, however, have countered that the war against America by Al-Qaeda is ongoing, that it is unconventional, and that the "battlefield" extends into America itself. George W. Bush is unapologetic about the detentions, labeling the detainees as "enemy combatants" and insisting that their detention is necessary.

The experiences encountered in dealing with the Taliban government inspired a new attitude in the Bush Administration towards foreign policy. Bush asserted that in America's continuing war against terror, the United States should not differentiate between terrorist groups, and the governments that support them. This view was highlighted in Bush's second State of the Union Address, in which he specifically singled out the nations of Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as particularly distressing examples of states that sponsor terrorism, dubbing them an Axis of Evil.

Iraq

By early 2002 Bush began actively pressing for regime change in the nation of Iraq, indicating that his government had reason to believe that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had ties to terrorist groups and was developing weapons of mass destruction. This proposal was controversial with much of the world, and portions of the American public. Upon the advice of Secretary of State Colin Powell Bush agreed to pursue the "UN route" to disarming Iraq. On November 8, 2002 a US-proposed United Nations Security Council resolution, UN Security Council Resolution 1441, was unanimously passed, condemning the Iraqi regime and re-instating a team of UN weapons inspectors. The inspectors did not make any significant finds, but the Bush administration claimed they were being manipulated and deceived by the Iraqi regime. The regime's past behaviour led credibility to these claims in the eyes of many. Powell made an appeal to the Security Council, showing photographs and conversations which the administration presented as evidence that Iraq's government was engaging in widespread deception. As the Security Council did not react in favour of a military action against Iraq, Bush warned that the Council could be rendering itself obsolete.

On March 20, 2003 Bush gave the go ahead for a full-scale military invasion of Iraq to overthrow the Iraqi regime. He did so using powers that had been granted to him by congress on October 16 of the previous year. After three weeks of fighting, the Iraqi government was successfully overthrown on April 9, 2003 and US forces occupied the Iraqi capital. The military effort has now switched to an effort of maintaining Iraqi security, strengthening the nation's infrastructure and local institutions, and preparing to hand over power to a democratically elected government.


President Bush in a flight suit on the USS Abraham Lincoln.
Bush landed on the carrier in a controversial photo op to announce an end to major hostilities in Iraq

Throughout the course of the Iraqi war Bush was often the target of harsh criticism. Both in America and in the rest of the world there were numerous anti-war protests. On February 15 2003 there were over 10 million people in the streets all over the world. Many of the protesters were vehemently critical of Bush, calling him a "warmonger," an oil-hungry "imperialist," a "fascist." Bush dismissed the protesters as being merely "a focus group". Many European leaders were also critical of the President, though at last count, 13 of the 25 member states of the European Union have troops on the ground in Iraq. Bush's loudest critic was French President Jacques Chirac who soon set himself up as the leading international voice of opposition to the Bush plan of Iraqi regime change. German Justice Minister, Herta Däubler-Gmelin compared the methods of Bush to those of Hitler. These remarks drew strong condemnation from both the United States and Europe; the minister resigned.

There were also rallies in the United States that supported the President's actions in Iraq and also supporting the US and coalition forces. The people who participated in these rallies praised Bush's leadership and courage in confronting Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi regime.

Before the war, polls of Americans themselves tended to indicate a 50/50 split on invading Iraq, with the lowest rankings tending to come from polls that broke the question down into three options -- opposition to the war with or without United Nations weapons inspections, support only if the United Nations agrees and has had adequate time to search for weapons of mass destruction, and unconditional support of the war. After the war began, however, a solid majority of the American people and their representatives in Congress, in striking contrast to international opinion, backed Bush's decision to invade Iraq, with poll numbers ranging from 62% to as high as 70% in favor of the war.

The inability of the U.S. to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, however, has led to greater domestic criticism of the administration's Iraq policy. Several of the statements that Bush made leading up to the war in Iraq, especially those involving claims of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, have been criticized as misleading or inaccurate. Particularly controversial was Bush's claim in the 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq was seeking to buy yellowcake, a form of unrefined uranium, from the African nation of Niger. Some officials and diplomats disputed this claim, which eventually led to a public embarrassment for George Tenet, the director of the CIA, as well as the Valerie Plame scandal. Much of this criticism has come from political opponents of Bush; the Iraq war, and whether or not it was a good idea, has become a significant issue in the 2004 Democratic primary. This issue was especially used as a motivating factor by the campaigns of Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich, though most other candidates opposed the war as well.

Nevertheless, David Kay, the CIA special adviser on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programs and head of the Iraqi Survey Group, said in an interview to FOX News dated October 5, 2003 that the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi Secret Service, had a vigorous weapons program that included chemical and biological agents such as Botulinum toxin, anthrax, Brucella, the virus that produces Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever, ricin, and Naflotoxin, and that these programs were unreported and undiscovered until after the invasion.

Domestic Security

Following the September 11 terrorist attacks the Bush administration asked Congress to approve a series of laws that it stated were necessary to prosecute the War on Terror. These included a wide variety of surveillance programs, some of which came under heavy fire from civil libertarians who criticized the Bush administration of scaling back civil liberties.

Bush Security Initiatives

  • Through an act of Congress, the creation of a Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a cabinet-level agency designed to streamline and co-ordinate the various agents of federal government bureaucracy charged with protecting the American homeland from foreign attacks. (The White House had opposed the creation of this department for several months.)

  • A Total Information Awareness (TIA) program was proposed by the Defense Department. The TIA program did not receive funding from Congress, however, and is not currently operating.

  • The USA PATRIOT Act which greatly and controversially expands the government's powers of surveillance and arrest. The act passed soon after September 11, 2001.

  • Creation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review which will review government acts of domestic spying.

  • "Project Lookout", which distributes "watch lists" of people alleged to be suspicious, or have ties to terrorist groups to a variety of different organizations and institutions. These included specific "No-fly" lists of American residents who should not be allowed to board any airport into or out of the United States.

  • "Operation TIPS", which would encouraged people who have access to American homes, like plumbers, to report suspicious activity. This proposal was rejected after an initial outcry.

  • The Worldwide Attack Matrix, an intelligence document describing covert operations abroad to defuse terrorist threats to American interests.

  • "NewRuleSets.project", which provides a strategic framework for intervening in countries to move them into the "functioning core" of world societies and out of the "non-integrating gap" from which national security threats arise.

  • Creation of First Amendment Zones, where political protesters are allowed to exercise their free speech rights.

As mentioned, many of these actions were very controversial. Some accused the Bush administration of using the threat of terrorism as an excuse to clamp down on political dissent; indeed, many of Bush's critics were quick to allege that they were being unfairly targeted by the new security measures. Others accused the administration of over-reacting to the threat of terrorism, and participating in Big Brother style tactics with little justification.

Currently, a major controversy in the United States Congress is the debate over whether or not to expand the USA PATRIOT Act into a new Act known as USA PATRIOT Act II. This proposal would increase government surveillance on people in the United States suspected of terrorist activities and reduce judicial oversight over surveillance; authorize secret trials; and give the Justice Department the authority to revoke the American citizenship of anyone who belonged to an organization that the government deemed subversive. [1]

These laws are undoubtedly controversial, but many argue that in a world where well-funded, international conspiracies exist with the goal of, for instance, setting off a nuclear weapon in a major American city, which would kill hundreds of thousands and throw the nation into chaos, the balance between security and liberty must shift somewhat. Supporters of the new law enforcement powers, such as Attorney General John Ashcroft have pointed out that against earlier predictions, nearly two years have passed without a single terrorist atrocity in the United States, a silent victory that goes mostly unnoticed. Opponents allege that the new law enforcement powers have resulted in arrests of people who have not been publicly charged with anything, in violation of the U.S. Constitution and basic human rights.

In any event, the debate over the proper role of government in people's lives will continue. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court and lower Federal courts will rule on the constitutionality of the new laws.

Cabinet and Advisors

Main article: the Bush Administration

Among the most prominent cabinet members and Bush advisors are Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Treasury John W. Snow, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Attorney General John Ashcroft. Bush also took part in creating the Department of Homeland Security, which is led by Tom Ridge.

Legislation signed

Partial list:

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Related articles

External links

Speech transcripts

Pro-Bush links

Oppositional Bush links

National Guard service controversy

Drunk driving incident

References

  • Auletta, K. (2004, January 19). Fortress Bush: how the White House keeps the press under control. The New Yorker, LXXIX, 53.

Preceded by :
Bill Clinton
Presidents of the United States


  

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